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City's New Ethics Chief Outlines His Mission


Benjamin Bycel, the newly appointed executive officer of the city's nascent Ethics Commission, said Friday that he "won't conduct any witch hunts" while enforcing a tough new set of regulations governing the conduct of city officials.

"I feel like the commissioner of baseball," he said. "My goal isn't to destroy or disrupt. It's to make sure that the game is played by the rules."

Bycel, who has been serving as dean of the Santa Barbara-Ventura College of Law, was selected from about 100 candidates, according to Dennis Curtis, president of the commission.

The commission's first choice for the job, Walter Zelman, rejected it after the City Council voted to cut his starting salary from about $90,000 a year to $76,254. Bycel said he has no problem with the lower salary.

Bycel said he has three immediate goals:

* To set up a staff of 21 to begin fielding questions and complaints.

"We want people who believe in the mission we're doing," he said, "people who want to be involved in government . . . people who are going to work hard."

* To "tell the community that we are ready for input."

Bycel said his group will welcome ideas on how to enforce the regulations mandated last June through the passage of Proposition H, including tough new financial disclosure laws for city officials.

* To make any changes in the commission operations as the need for them becomes apparent.

"Ben Bycel has outstanding qualifications to be our first executive officer and all members of the commission are extremely pleased that he has agreed to serve," the commission's vice president, Dr. Cynthia Teles, said Friday as she welcomed Bycel to his first official board meeting.

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